After waiting more than a decade to qualify an event for state, the Platte County girls swimming team needed only a week to send two this season. Lauren Earnest met the qualifying standard for the Missouri State Swimming and Diving Championships in the 50-yard freestyle, winning the event Saturday, Dec. 20 at the Independence Invitational with a time of 25.79 seconds — the exact time for a state cut.
Hannah Havemeier qualified for state in the 100 breaststroke the previous week.
Platte County’s most recent state qualifier prior to this season was in 2002.
Earnest scored the Pirates best finish in the Independence Invitational, while Havemeier came in ninth in her state-qualified event, coming in at 1:17.00 — 0.31 of a second slower than teammate Olivia Forester (eighth, 1:16.69).
Havemeier, Forester, Earnest and Hailee Baer teamed up to finish ninth in the 400 freestyle relay. Baer, Forester, Earnest and Rachel Valentine nearly qualified a relay team for state, placing fifth in the 200 medley relay at 2:02.34.
That puts the quartet a little more than three seconds off the qualifying mark of 1:58.99.
Park Hill South continued to add to its state qualifying contingent while winning the 10-team meet held in St. Louis. The Panthers hit eight marks during the two-day invitational. Tori Beeler in the 200 IM (2:09.82) and 100 backstroke (58.15), Allison Garrett in the 100 breaststroke (1:11.40), Paige Reikhof in the 100 freestyle (55.73 — set on the opening leg of the 400 meter freestyle relay) and Helen Yeater in the 100 butterfly (1:00.38). In addition, all three relay teams improved their seed times.
Beeler became the first in Park Hill South history to meet the state qualifying mark in every individual event.
“She’s got the ability to swim any event we need her to swim,” Park Hill South coach Tim Busenhart said.
Beeler collected four gold medals at Lindbergh, and she became the first in the state this season to break the 1-minute mark in 100 backstroke, according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association performance list of current state qualifiers. She also collected golds in the 200 IM and as a member of the 200 medley (1:53.94 with Maggie Hickey, Anna Riekhof and Ava Kinsland) and 400 freestyle (3:43.43 with Paige Riekhof, Hickey and Garrett) relay teams.
Paige Riekhof — first in the 200 freestyle (1:59.08) and second in the 100 butterfly 1:00.34 — and Garrett — first in 100 freestyle (56.11) — rounded out the event winners for Park Hill South, which scored 540½ points. Parkway South finished second at 438½.
Park Hill South returns to action on Dec. 30 with a home dual against Kearney. The Panthers then travel to Columbia, Mo. for the COMO Invitational on Jan. 2-3.